The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips: The Giant Legs of Amarillo

Mock tribute to Ozymandias adds quirky character to the Panhandle

By Gerald E. McLeod, July 16, 2021, Columns

The "Giant Legs of Amarillo" (aka Ozymandias) sometimes wear striped athletic socks, sometimes are decorated with psychedelic spray-painted tattoos, but always the bodiless limbs hold up the expansive Panhandle sky.

The plaque at the entrance to the pasture art states, "In 1819, while on their horseback trek over the Great Plains of New Spain, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), came across these ruins. Here Shelley penned his immortal lines ..."

It's all another practical joke by the late billionaire, philanthropist, and art patron Stanley Marsh 3, who also brought us the Texas icons of Cadillac Ranch, Floating Mesa, and Dynamite Museum.

Marsh commissioned local self-taught artist Lightnin' McDuff to fashion the two trunkless legs in mock tribute to Ozymandias, the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, who thought the statue would eternally preserve his power. Percy did write the poem that adorns the iron tablet at the site, but it wasn't about this pair of legs.

Like Cadillac Ranch off I-40 east of Amarillo, visitors are welcome to add their own spray-painted inscriptions to the legs. Though this art is not as well-known or as popular as the 10 Cadillacs nose-down in a field, it's just as quirky.

The Giant Legs of Amarillo are at the southeast corner of I-27 and Sundown Lane south of town. Every few months the legs get a new coat of paint, which ranges from a pair of socks to graffiti. Parking is on the rutted side of the road. While the site is open to visitors, those without closed-toe shoes will discover the pain of Texas burrs that seem to be the field's primary crop.

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